WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Students at a West Palm Beach middle school are mourning the death of one of their classmates whose family said he died this week from the flu virus.
Some parents told Local 10 News that they had to pick up their children early from school because they couldn't get through the day after learning that Dylan Winnik, 12, had died.
"(My daughter) was crying and upset," one parent, Sachio Leon, said.
Sadness continued to soak the halls at Okeheelee Community Middle School on Thursday, where grief counselors were called in to help students cope.
"Today, we talked about him and the things we could do to help his parents, and how we can help everyone around us feel better," seventh-grader Melanee Morrabales said.
Dylan died Tuesday, on a day he was absent from school and home recovering from a bout with the flu.
His father said he left Dylan at home to run an errand after believing his son was starting to feel better.
The dad called home, and when no one answered, he asked a neighbor to check in on his son.
The neighbor called 911 when Dylan didn't answer the door, and emergency crews found the boy dead in the bathroom.
"It's unbelievable," Leon said. "It was just something so unexpected. It makes no sense, but yeah, I'm worried."
School administrators sent a note home to parents this week, informing them of the student's death.
Dylan split his time between his dad's home in West Palm Beach, where purple ribbons are outside in his honor, and his mom's home in Coral Springs, where she and the boy's stepfather are receiving an outpouring of support.
"It's something that you can't imagine," Dylan's stepfather, Mike Medwin, said. "You think it's somewhere off, somewhere else and it's not your problem, and then it's right here in a neighborhood like this."
A GoFundMe page has been set up in the boy's honor, which has topped $15,000.
Dylan's middle school classmates are also organizing their own way of honoring their young friend.
"Tomorrow, everyone is wearing orange," Melanee said. "It was his favorite color, so we’re just going to wear orange."
The medical examiner has not confirmed whether the flu virus was the cause of death, although Dylan’s family believes it was. Autopsy results are pending.
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